New York Magazine recognizes Birmingham’s newly elected 9 black female judges

17 judges.nocrop.w710.h2147483647 New York Magazine recognizes Birmingham's newly elected 9 black female judges
From New York Magazine – Photo by Andre Wagner

Jefferson County made history last November electing nine black women to district and circuit judgeships.

The historic event was recognized nationally this weekend with a feature story by New York Magazine.

Check out the story at New York Magazine:

Why the Election of 9 Black Female Judges in Alabama Matters

In the story, the author Lindsay Peoples interviewed eight of the nine judges. Some of their answers were personal and enlightening.  Here are a few of their responses from the story.

Judge Elizabeth French – Circuit Court Judge:

On how she sees her role

“As judges, we take an oath to follow the Constitution so that’s first and foremost. But I’ve realized that I have a responsibility to also put mercy and practicality and real-life experiences into the decisions that I’m making. I didn’t come from a real place of privilege. I was raised by a single mother, and I just knew that I would bring a different perspective to the bench whether I planned to do so or not.” 

Judge Nakita Blocton – Circuit Court Domestic Relations Judge:

On the power of judges

“I can remember specifically trying a case involving custody of a small child, and I was [unable to get the court order I needed to protect him]. It made me realize that I was powerless; that as a lawyer I was only as good as my judge. I’ve also experienced cronyism in a courtroom, or what you would call the “buddy system.” It’s no secret that many cases are decided before they get to court, and that’s not right.”

Judge Javan Patton – Circuit Court Judge:

On racism in Alabama

“Though we have a history of blatant racism and issues in the past, there’s a changing of the tide, and I want to be a part of the progression to make sure that we are inclusive and being better. I don’t think any of us set out to be history makers — I think we were all just interested in making our community better. People need to see African-American women doing this and they need to see us doing it in the South.”


Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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